Unless Port of Seattle Executive Director Stephen Metruck takes immediate action to recall public safety personnel who have started the vaccination process, Sea-Tac Airport faces a dangerous staffing shortage over the holidays that could put the traveling public at risk during its busiest time of year.
The Port of Seattle Police Department was already experiencing a staffing shortage before the Port issued its vaccine mandate in September. Add to those shortages an additional fourteen officers, sergeants, and commanders, and three traffic support specialists, all of whom have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine but are prohibited from working, and the Port is now facing a shortfall of over thirty officers.
According to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention report, mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have a high degree of effectiveness at preventing symptomatic infection after a single dose, with 80% effectiveness fourteen days after the first dose of the vaccine. This compares with 90% effectiveness at preventing symptomatic infection fourteen days after the second dose.
On Friday, November 19, Teamsters Locals 117 and 763, the Unions that represent 250 workers at the Port, including over a hundred officers, sergeants, and commanders, sent a letter to Executive Director Metruck urging him to allow public safety personnel who have started the vaccination process to be allowed to work.
Given the staffing shortages, the Unions expressed an “extreme concern over the safety of our Port of Seattle Police Department employees and the traveling public.” With high numbers of people expected to travel this week, they say, the “Port of Seattle Police employees who are fully vaccinated is insufficient to meet safe staffing levels for these volumes.”
The Unions contend that allowing public safety staff who have started the vaccination process to work is the most responsible way to ensure safety and security of airport employees, customers, vendors, and the traveling public.
“The Port of Seattle must take immediate steps to protect Port of Seattle staff and the traveling public,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “The Port has an obligation to provide a safe work environment for our members and to ensure safety and security for holiday travelers at Sea-Tac Airport. With current staffing shortages, they are not fulfilling that essential public safety obligation.”
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